I love playing in  my button jar and finding ways to make jewelry using buttons.  Button jewelry can be colorful and fun, buttons can also be used to make jewelry more contemporary and sophisticated like these earrings.  I like the color palette – everything is in dark neutral and muted tones.  The adventure for me in making these earrings was to use the holes without using a lot of jump rings.  I could have done it that way but I think the visual emphasis would have shifted away from the buttons and towards the jump rings.

I used one jump ring in each earring – to attach it to the earwire at the top.  The other connections were made using head pins that start in the center of the smaller button at the bottom.  The head pin at the top bends up, through the back of the top button, back down and then around to complete the attachment.  The second head pin bends into a loop in the back used to attach the brass dangle below.  I’m going junk shopping today and hope I can snag a jar or box of more buttons.

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Gray is a favorite color of mine.  I love it whether it’s soft gray sweaters, furry gray kittens, or beautiful gray beads.  Gray is a sophisticated neutral that makes a statement in a quiet way.  The idea for this necklace came when I saw the gray agate tubes sitting next to the gray fresh water pearls.  It was one of those happy accidents that occur from time to time.  I loved the light and dark gray pearls with the agate tubes and made all the dangle segments, not really sure at the time where I would head with the necklace.  All of the links were made with sterling silver wire that I darkened to a matte finish that I think shows the beads off better than shiny silver would.

When I went to bring the necklace together, I remembered I had these matte finish hematite beads and felt they were just perfect.  They brought another aspect of gray into the design and look wonderful with shiny dark gray pearls interspersed in short intervals.  Given that the necklace was made using a single color – shades of that color, shape, texture, and finish had to bring the visual interest and artistry that I seek to create in each piece of jewelry.

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I’ve really learned a lot when it comes to working with wire.  I remember when I first started working with it I had some trouble.  I think it occurred for two reasons – (1) I was too timid with the wire, you have to really handle it and (2) I didn’t really want to sit and practice wire-working, I wanted to make finished pieces.  Well, I got past both of those by purchasing some inexpensive copper wire and putting in the time to practice.  Truthfully, it didn’t take that long and I still turn to copper first when working out a design or trying a new technique.

These earrings were made by creating multiple circular components out of gold-filled wire and then linking them together.  I bought a pack containing several crochet hooks in various sizes and they are what I use to form wire to get consistent sizes.  So, if you look at my notes you see things like “use the pink crochet hook” and I’m really referring to  diameter.  The crochet hooks have the diameter stamped on them, it’s just easier to refer to them by color.  I’m happy with these earrings and have made some in silver and have used some of the copper ones too.

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Turtlenecks provide a perfect opportunity to accessorize.  With some sweater and shirt styles, the location and size of the collar must be taken into account when planning accessories.  We’ve all had it happen before – the necklace that keeps falling inside our shirt instead of sitting on top.

With turtlenecks, the neckline is high up and practically out-of-the-way.  Most necklace lengths work very well, however, very short necklaces can be tricky – even ones that usually fit us because of the extra volume created by the turtleneck.  Extending the necklace with a bit of chain or ribbon can resolve this.

Another reason turtlenecks are great for accessorizing is because they provide a colorful backdrop for your jewelry – creating a canvas that you can play and experiment with when it comes to color.  In this photo, a very red necklace was chosen to stand out against the green of the sweater.  They both hold their own and I think the match is a good one.

Another nice way to accessorize a turtleneck is with a pin.  Instead of placing the pin on your jacket lapel, place it on the neck of the turtleneck.  My favorite pin for doing this is a little bumblebee pin I received as a gift from my boyfriend.  I can wear it with a turtleneck and jacket, and it peeks out sweetly at my neck.  Plus there’s none of that pesky seatbelt hitting my pin syndrome that can sometimes occur when its on the lapel.

So, enjoy your turtlenecks with your statement necklaces or other jewelry pieces that you just love, have fun, accessorize and let the world see your beautiful style.

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One category of beads I enjoy working with is African Trade Beads.  I find them to be absolutely beautiful, even those that may be distressed, chipped, or have suffered a little minor damage in their journey through the world.  Recently, the idea came to me to make a bracelet using the rust-colored circles you see above.  I pulled them out and then realized they would look perfect interspersed with some of the African Trade Beads in my collection.  I chose the exact placement of each bead to achieve the color balance I wanted and felt the only thing that would honor them was handmade chain.  I created each link from brass wire, darkened them, and connected them one by one.  I think the rustic-ness of the handmade chain complements these beads far better than the shiny perfection of a machine-made chain.

Some of the beads used in the bracelet include Venetian “French Cross”, Venetian Chevrons, and Venetian Millefiories.   There are many sources for African Trade Beads and one I’ve used for years is Picard Beads, they are experts in African Trade Beads.  Picard has a Trade Bead Museum and African Art Gallery in Carmel, CA and they have authored a number of publications on these beads.  I would love, love to visit the museum and whenever I visit their website, I am so tempted…

I won’t attempt to explain the history of these beads.  There are others far more qualified than me.  I do hope to convey my love of these beads and help you see their beauty.  Because of the age of some of the beads, they can be rare and therefore expensive, however they are worth learning more about and investing in.

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Things are exciting here at The Bead Dreamer.  I’m busy packing orders from yesterday’s Cyber Monday Jewelry Party.  I was awesome being able to talk with some of you on the phone and I plan to do this again.  Everyone who attended seemed to enjoy the party and liked having the opportunity to ask their questions about my jewelry.  Here’s a little bit about what’s coming up this month.

  • Bead Dreamer jewelry ships free all month.  No coupons, no codes, simply select the jewelry you want and the shipping’s on us.
  • The next book giveaway from Lark Books will be announced on Saturday 12/5/09.  We’ve had three delighted winners so far and I’m looking forward to selecting another.
  • Our fourth book giveaway will be announced later this month as will a gift card giveaway from Artbeads.com.  How awesome is that?  Not only do you have the chance to win a book, you can also win some beads and supplies for your jewelry project.

As usual, I’ll be talking about jewelry making, accessorizing, jewelry storage, and other topics you’ve come to expect from my blog.

So Happy December and let’s look forward to a wonderful month.

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The Bead Dreamer’s Cyber Monday Jewelry Party took place Monday 11/30/09 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM EST (GMT -5).  I enjoyed meeting and talking with those of you who were on the phone and hope to do this again.  Happy Holidays to all!